In the newly released movie How To Be Single, the character portrayed by Dakota Johnson gets her very own personal coach to help her navigate her way through being single, but when I was her age I had to fend for myself. I still do — and I sure wish I had Rebel Wilson as my muse for when I have to go it alone.
Years ago, I was running to make it to the wedding chapel on time. Frazzled I bumped into the bride rushing in. We both roared a raucous laugh at my klutzy timing. I’d come alone but managed to get my friend’s roommate to drop me off since I could not take public transportation there. When he left, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t know anyone but the bride and groom, how bad could it be?
I looked around and didn’t have a soul to talk to. The groom was a close friend from the Peace Corps. I figured everyone at the wedding would be as carefree as we were. Although a comfortable talker, I thought an ounce of alcohol would make it that much easier to approach strangers. I found my way to the bar, and loosened the pink cashmere shawl. I didn’t take into account the Chicago chill. I ordered a glass of white wine and the bartender began to look me up and down. Did I have food in my teeth? Was my makeup a mess? Why was he staring at me?
“Can I see some ID?” He asked seriously.
“ID?” I asked. “It’s a wedding,” I laughed.
“Yeah, but you need to be twenty one for me to serve you.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
I searched through my bite-sized purse for identification, but since I hadn’t driven there, l left my license at home — only able to fit it some mints, a lighter and lip gloss. I had nothing to prove that I was twenty-nine and in desperate need of a cocktail. That was the last time this New Yorker ever wears pink again. The cutesiness must’ve made my already youthful face appear like a teenager.
Thirsty and forlorn, I walked around and began to smoke a cigarette, fearing someone would come and take that away from me too.
A young couple came up to me and said hello. Apparently we had met once at the newlywed’s house when we all lived together in San Francisco and I was ecstatic to have someone to talk to. I told them my bar dilemma and they kindly offered to sneak me a few drinks.
As the evening progressed I began to talk to more of the guests and slowly found my groove. I even sashayed to the dance floor. But then I heard this: Will all the single ladies come to the main room for the bouquet.
Like any self-respecting independent woman, I ignored the booming announcement. Again, the broadcast was repeated. And then I heard the most disturbing thing possible.
Would Elana Rabinowitz please join the single women on the main floor.
Elana Rabinowitz come to the main floor
I was horrified. How could this be? Make the announcement stop!
I reluctantly grabbed my pink pashmina and made my way downstairs. The bride threw the wildflowers toward me. I ducked and let a teenager catch them (the only other person there to catch the bouquet).
“Why did you have them page me?” I asked, mortified.
“I liked the way your name sounded over the loudspeaker!” The bride giggled after too much Champagne, unaware of the damage she caused.
At 29, I’d never guess I would’ve been the only single woman at a wedding. As it turns out, I wasn’t. I later met two other women who confessed they were too embarrassed to stand up. I’d always go places alone, before. I am more self-conscious now.
As I get older and remain unhitched going to events alone becomes a chore.
I wish I had a significant other, not just for weddings but also for all the days in between. Regretfully I have to decline nuptials because I just can’t face going alone. I hope I can have a wedding of my own one day. I’d invite everyone I love to attend, and I promise not to make anyone catch the bouquet.
Until then, I never go to a wedding without a plus one and I always bring my ID.